Lane, Jackie and Videbaek Munkholm, Natalie (2015) Danish and British Protection from Disability Discrimination at Work - Past, Present and Future. The International Journal of Comparative Labour law and Industrial Relations, 31 (1). pp. 91-112. ISSN 0952-617X

Denmark and the United Kingdom both became members of what is now the European
Union (EU) in 1973 and are thus equally matched in terms of opportunity to bring their
anti-discrimination laws into line with those of the EU and other supra-national bodies such
as the United Nations (UN) and the Council of Europe. Our investigation, based on existing
reports, academic analysis and case law rulings involving alleged discrimination on grounds of
disability, has revealed some major differences in the level of protection provided by each
country’s legislature and judicature, but also by other mechanisms that extend beyond these
traditional measures, such as workplace collective agreements.While the UK has a long history
of supporting people with disabilities by legislating in all aspects of society, Denmark has been
at the forefront with social mechanisms, but has been reluctant to ensure equality in the labour
market. However, both countries have been equally unsuccessful in ensuring opportunities for
disabled workers, and consideration is given here as to whether one system of dealing with this
is better than another. We conclude that neither strict regulation imposed by the EU or
national governments, nor the laissez-faire method of leaving the level of protection to be
decided by collective agreement is entirely satisfactory. A different perspective altogether would
be to adopt the substantive diversity theory which would focus on a person’s abilities and what
they are able to do, and to gear society to embrace diversities, as the Danish employment
agency Specialisterne has done so successfully in the case of adults with autism. Countries such
as Denmark and the UK have much to learn from each other to tackle successfully this last
bastion of workplace inequality.

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